Asus Eee, Ubuntu’d

Lime and I decided to get ourselves a couple of Asus Eee PCs. The way the won is doing, the prices are comparable enough that we stopped hesitating, especially since Lime needs something for studying and I need someone I can haul to class or to my office. (I got tired of carrying my HP Pavilion laptop in one back, and the class stuff in the other; this way, it all goes into one shoulder bag.)

Mine's green; Lime's is white.
Mine is green, Lime’s is white.

It took me a few hours to research how to install Ubuntu on it — someone’s remixed Ubuntu especially for it, and there are some scripts you can run to make it immediately functional, too — and then it was up and running. There are a few things I’d like to do to get the interface a little funkier, but the RAM (upgraded and all) just doesn’t seem up to it.

They came with Windows XP in Korean preloaded, which, of course, is of little interest to me: formatted the drive of mine completely and threw Ubuntu on. Lime, of course, will need access to Windows, so I’m going to set up a dual boot on hers as soon as I can. (For some reason, I can’t seem to get it to boot from the USB drive, though I’m getting closer.)

It’s really light, and really snazzy, and the only thing that I don’t like about it so far is the horrible right shift key on the keyboard. I figure I’ll probably remap it as soon as I get a chance, switching it with the up arrow on the keypad. There’s gotta be a way to do that in Ubuntu, if people can do it in Windows…

The Netbook Remix interface is really nice, a much more workable interface for the netbook than a plain old Desktop like the one in the preloaded Windows system. Mine looks vaguely like this for now:

(Imagine actually grabbed from some forum online.)
(Imagine actually grabbed from some forum online.)

though I’d like to trick it out to look more like this:

(Love the applicaiton bar thingie at the bottom, even if it is tres Mac. And yeah, I have Awn installed, but it's glitchy.)
(Love the application bar thingie at the bottom, even if it is tres Mac. And yeah, I have Awn installed, but it's glitchy...)

Anyway, I’m happy enough with it. It’s pretty usable, pretty light, it was a snap to get the OS working, and I only have a few more mods left to do. (The key remap, enabling Korean input, installing a few more programs, and some media stuff that wasn’t handled in the scripts.)

So anyway, I don’t know what the interface is like if you’re using the original Linux one available in the US, or Windows (as the ones in Korea seem to all have preloaded) but the version of Ubuntu that was remixed especially for this series, available here, is really working well as far as I’m concerned! Even the hard drive gives me plenty of space — 160 GB is, after all, bigger than the drive on my laptop. Tons of space for writing and other projects, which is good… next semester is going to involve a fair amount of multimedia stuff.

I could use a spare battery or two, though… the battery life is relatively long, but the day (and my usage time) seems to be somewhat longer…

8 thoughts on “Asus Eee, Ubuntu’d

  1. unwanted suggestion number 1:

    VirtualBox is a lot nicer than dual-boot (Win. programs can work from the Linux desktop, for example). You don’t even need a separate partition. See here:

    Totally different from Wine, and much more reliable.

    And since the subject is Linux, there needs to be some snarky advocacy. Here’s mine – those who are very concerned about Open Source need to be aware of the Mono project, it’s increasing integration into Gnome, and how Mono relates to Microsoft’s .NET framework. If Gnome users find themselves paying license fees in the future, it’s going to be because of Mono (though Mono itself is neat).

    There, that’s my bit.

  2. sorry, one more thing – to find out how to remap keys run

    $ man xmodmap

    it’s pretty straightforward

    also, xev will help you get keycodes

    …or rely on the Gnome utility, which I know nothing about

  3. Rhesus,

    No, the suggestions are quite welcome. I’ve been thinking about using VirtualBox, actually… does it fool the Korean websites into playing nice? That’s the main reason I want Windows anyway — that, and because a few formatting issues in the Linux word processors make it necessary to do edit in word before emailing electronic submissions.

    As for the keycodes, I remapped them using a script (nice and not permanent) but I don’t like it exactly… for some reason I want the up arrow and shift switched, but not the down arrow and the right arrow. (I can’t see how it makes sense to anyone to set it up that way, but anyhow.) Thanks for the pointers, it’d like what I’d seen elsewhere. Now if only I could find a spare moment…

    As for Mono — which I’d not heard about till you mentioned it — would it cripple Mono if at some point all the Microsoft compatibility were to be abandoned?

    If license fees start getting charged for using Gnome, lots of people (especially the ones most into development) will move on to something else, won’t they? Especially if those fees are going where I think they’d be going. I know I’d be willing to move on, assuming something usable was available.

  4. VirtualBox makes a virtual machine, in which it runs any number of “guest” operating systems. The guest os is installed in a regular directory on your Linux system, but when it is run it only “sees” the I/O made by the virtual machine. So, if WinXP is your guest os, you basically get a full WinXP session from within Linux – it acts the same way as if it were the only os on the computer, though with some performance limitations (I’m trying not to sound like an ad). Anyway, I’m using it to run Vista with no problems.

    There are other programs that do this, like VMware and QEMU, but I haven’t tried them out.

    The Mono and .NET issue would take a lot of text to explain properly, so I’ll just give you some links. One thing, though – the leader of Mono development is Miquel de Icaza, who also leads the Gnome project. What this means is that Mono is going to be integrated into Gnome whatever anyone else thinks about it.

    If you wanted to give up Gnome, you could use KDE or Xfce, Ratpoison, or (the best) Ion3.

    I’m sure that’s all the tedium you need for one comment. Here’re the links:

    Good overview, if old (there’s been no demise of Mono) –

    The GNU perspective –

    Crazed advocacy –

  5. I wrote a long comment but it seems to have disappeared, and I don’t have the energy to write another now. Meh. Anyway, here are some Mono/.NET links that explain the issue from various perspectives:

    (this is an old article – Mono is not dead)

  6. Rhesus,

    Thanks for the links… I’ll get to them soonish. And again, thanks for the added info on VirtualBox. I’ll try it out and it may well be the solution my girlfriend has been looking for vis a vis switching to Linux while in Korea…

  7. I’ll be interested to hear if they end up being durable and reliable. When my g4 eventually meets its end (I hope not for another two years or so) I plan to get one of these, or their descendants.

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